Greetings my friends. How has everyone been? I have waited quite awhile to write this particular work due to an array of factors including letting the dust settle. This work is the result of numerous interviews that I have conducted with people within the boxing industry over the last 3 months. The situation to which this writer refers is the Manny/Floyd Mayweather saga. This work will not be a chronicle like my friend Thomas Hauser's Manifesto but more of an overview and an indictment on those who are to blame. I have read an infinite amount of material on top of the interviews I conducted so it is safe to say that I am well versed in the situation that was. I am sure I will draw some fire and to some degree it is welcome because is a truly polarizing issue on many levels. Enough, I have revved the engine, lets go
Before I was a media member and the Senior writer for unifiedchamp.com I was a random blogger for Bleacher report. It was fun work. I met (electronically) many fans and people from all over the world. In my writings, a full year and a half before anyone really gave it any thought, I pointed to Manny vs. Floyd as the true summit meeting of this generation. I saw the fight materializing 3 or 4 fights in advance. Check my bleacher report archive. When I first presented the fight my idea was dismissed by many even laughed at on occasion. People really began to believe in the fight Manny battered a dilapidated Oscar del la hoya (when I called months in advance by the way) from pillar to post. In the aftermath of that fight the idea of Manny and Floyd began to gain traction in all four corners of boxing. It also became solvent in Manny’s head as well. During the Cotto negotiations Manny’s people put out a report that they were willing to listen to offers from Floyd. At the time it was an obvious negotiating ploy to get Cotto to bow to Manny’s weight demands but within the report there was hidden significance. Manny was finally beginning to understand that his real test, his defining moment, was one Floyd Mayweather Junior
The rest is history from that point on. Manny Destroyed Cotto, in that effort he appeared to be the Greatest Boxer Puncher of all time. He had such a bounce, such sweet movement. Fans when I watch Great fighters I watch there feet. I watch how they time their punches. How they improvise movement along with the punches that they throw. I was in such awe that night because Manny displayed something I have never seen before. An unprecedented mix of speed, power, and balls. With that said. The aspect of the Cotto fight that was Scary was Manny repeatedly beating his chest when Cotto landed. I would liken it to Hogan “Hulking up” towards the end of his famous matches. This was not Steve Forbes or Paulie “Magic man” landing flush shots. This was Miguel Cotto. This was the same Cotto that “systemically breaks down” his opponents. This was the Cotto that out boxed Shane Mosley and abused Zab Judah. Manny took 4 or 5 flush hooks from Cotto and KEPT coming. In wake of the knockout Manny became a true household name and the calls for FMJ rose to a fever pitch. The fans at the fight were actually chanting Floyds name like it was a college basketball game. As a fan I was so excited because I had seen this moment coming for years. Right after this fight as luck would have it I began covering boxing full time. Among the first interviews I conducted was a phone conversation with Freddie Roach. I asked Freddie his take on the fight, he told me
FR: It was a great fight, Manny beat Cotto at his own game and he beat him at our game too, Manny proved he had true welterweight power and it was a great performance. I am happy with it
Among other things I asked Roach about Manny’s amazing power. I asked Roach how come everyone seems so shocked by it as of late. Roach told me
FR: He has just really filled out. He is bigger and stronger now. He is just in his peak right now. I don’t think there is a 147 pounder that can touch us
After the interview I began to become a little skeptical of Manny. How in the world can someone fill out with muscle and not fat after the age of thirty at such an accelerated rate? Another thing that was strange was that Manny had been horribly staggered by Juan Manuel Marquez, the left hook that Juan caught Manny with in that fight did not have near the velocity or power that Cotto’s looping Haymaker left hook had at the time it was thrown. Don’t bother making the argument that their fight was fought at Jr lightweight. Manny had rehydrated to the same weight that he was on the night of November 14th. I decided to go back and watch the fight. I saw Manny almost fight at an inhuman level. I had the same feeling when I saw Barry Bonds hit a homerun off a broken bat. The same feeling I had when Lex Luger slammed Yokozuna aboard the USS Intrepid. I began to believe what had been rumored for months. Manny might not be clean.
I was not the only one. People within the boxing industry including potential opponents began to sounds off. The timing of this could not have been worse. It just so happened that Manny was on the cusp of the most important negotiation of his life and to complicate things even more Floyd Sr began to voice his fears about his son fighting on a level playing field in the event that the fight came off. So began the talks, which began surprisingly, well. The money, the TV rights, even the title of the promotion which would favor Mayweather went off with out a hitch. The actual site of the fight was a point of much banter for about ten days but after awhile it became evident that the MGM would land the fight. Mayweather, on a streak of unprecedented diplomacy even went as far as agreeing to a weight penalty never seen before in the sport. Ten Million for every pound that Pretty Boy came in over weight. This move no doubt was in response to Floyds weight troubles (or machinations depending on your point of view) in the Marquez promotion and it was also a calculated ploy by team Manny to create a sticking post. About 2 weeks into the promotional negotiations lightning struck. Schafer at the behest of his fighter proposed a stipulation stating that Manny and Floyd both be subjected to unlimited Random drug test blood and urine. The same testing that Lance Armstrong submitted too. Come to think of it Floyd has submitted to this type of testing before. When he was a bronze medalist at the Atlanta Olympic games Floyd passed every strenuous test placed upon him on route to a medal. Manny as luck would have it Manny have NEVER been tested by a true anti doping governing body. Initially this was not viewed as a big deal. As luck would have it I would get some insight from Manny’s camp right around the time that Schafer injected this into the negociation
I was covering the Pavlik/Espino fight for UnifiedChamp.com in Youngstown Ohio. I met Freddie at the weigh in for the first time in person. We had a laugh about our phone interview and we actually took a picture, which can be seen on Unifiedchamp. Freddie was there to hold down the corner for a great young fighter named Vanes M. I interviewed Freddie at the weigh in and figured I would catch up with him after the fight. The next night I was having a discussion with some guys from secondsout.com in press row when Freddie walked by. He smiled at me and we commenced our second interview in two days. I got right to it and asked him about the prospects of an Olympic style testing regimen in the lead up to fight and how he felt going into the fight from a tactical point of view. Freddie told me
FR: "I am excited; I cannot wait to get going. I do not have a complete game plan as of yet but we are ready to go. We have accepted the Olympic style testing, as Floyd wants. We have no problem with that. I have trouble getting Manny to take vitamins let alone fucking drugs"
After the interview I shook Freddie’s hand and wished him luck. I was not finished there. At the post fight new conference I caught up with Bob Arum. I have interviewed Arum quite a bit since obtaining my press pass and he is always accommodating. At least in person. Anyway I asked him his view on the fight and he responded with the following
BA: "I think it is a tremendous fight, Mayweather is the best defensive fighter of our era, of course I am partial to my guy Manny Pacquaio, I think he is really something special. I think he will be too much for Floyd, It’s a terrific fight, and it’s the best one that can be made"
As I was leaving Youngstown Ohio fans I was beyond excited. I had been a little nervous when I heard that Floyd would demand Blood testing. Freddie quelled that fear when he disclosed that they “already had accepted” Floyd’s demands for USDA regulated testing. I became even more excited after speaking with Arum because for a long time I had feared that Bob Arum and his vaunted politics would be a major roadblock to the fight getting done. I knew of the history between him and Floyd and more importantly I knew of the disdain that he had for Floyd’s Manager Al Haymon. Upon learning that Arum was all in favor of the fight and understood the significance I figured the fight was a lock. How wrong was I?
About 3 days after I met with Freddie and Bob Arum The Sportscenter Media Machine began to report that there was a monster Snag in the negotiations. Dan Rafael reported that the problem centered about the vigorous nature of the testing and that Manny would not agree to it. Arum called the testing “unreasonable”. Much to my shock Freddie would second this motion calling the testing “Bullshit”. Arum told the Grand Rapids Newspaper that Floyd was using the drug testing as a “Cowards way” out. Freddie Roach told the LA Times that they would not “Bow down” to Floyd’s Demands. When I read these things and I saw that the fight may be called off due to the Drug Testing issue I went back and listened to my tape recorder like 40 times. I wanted to make sure that I had heard the interviews correctly. Freddie Roach sat there and lied to my face, or had he? I have it on tape and it is now on You tube. Freddie told me point blank that they had already accepted the Olympic style testing and that it was no problem at all. 4 DAYS LATER they do a complete about face? I had a feeling that initially they were all in favor of the testing but when Manny was presented with it he freaked out. Bob Arum being the promoter presented the issue to the media like it was HE who was against the testing but I would learn later that was just to protect Manny in the public’s eyes. I came within a mouse fart of mailing the tape to my friends up at ESPN but I decided against it. I instead opted to watch from a distance as the drama unfolded.
Well the drama did more then unfold. It fell apart. Crashed to earth if you will. The two sides at the end of the day could not agree on the drug testing issue and it cost us the fans a modern day Mega fight. I had waited for a year for this fight to happen and it fell apart because one of the participants did not want to play on an even playing field. It fell apart all because of a procedure that ensures fair play and exposes cheating. The questionable thing about Manny is that he passed up 50 million, committed himself to pay a top flight lawyer billable hours for the foreseeable future, and agreed to fight a lesser opponent for 55 percent less all over a drug test? This does not seem like the actions of a clean upstanding athlete. It does not seem like the actions of someone who is truly above board. Logic dictates that Manny values his legacy above any Paycheck or monetary gain. In so many words keeping his secret hidden from the world is absolutely worth a 50 million dollar hit. What followed however was troubling. Everyone is all 4 corners began to deflect the fact that Manny ducked a simple drug test by blaming FMJ. What was baffling about that to this writer is that it was Floyd who agreed to a outrageous weight penalty, it was Floyd who agreed to submit himself to the same testing as Manny. What I am not mentioning is that it is Floyd is an African American. Floyd being blamed for the fight falling apart is an issue of race. That is why 90 percent of America agrees with Manny even though it is Floyd who is the American. Floyd’s problem is that the term “African” appears before American. It is because Floyd is a young, rich Black man. It’s the same reason that Barry Bonds was vilified by the mostly white media and everyone else who has come after him guilty of the same thing has been given a relative pass. Through out history outspoken rich black men are shunned by the White power structure in this country. Jack Johnson, Ali, Larry Holmes, and who could forget Jim Brown, the list goes on and on. Floyd is the victim of something larger then this singular issue. Floyd has major character flaws don’t get me wrong. But if you take a step back and look a this situation the very fact that the majority of people in this country are focusing on Floyds flaws and not Manny’s shady refusal coupled with record breaking performances implies racial Bias. Even though I no longer write regular blogs on bleacher report due to my professional responsibilities I still visit the site, as there is good writing on the site. Around the time of this fiasco I hopped to Bleacher report to read and I saw the most racist peace of writing I had ever seen in my life. A Blogger who goes by the name of Kevin Riley had started a petition to convince sponsors not to endorse Pretty Boy Floyd. My father grew up in the time of the civil rights movement and when he saw this he told me it reminded him of his childhood. That was true hate. What was the point of that? Because Floyd wants to play on an even playing field you’re going to start a stupid piece of legislature that is going to make no difference whatsoever? This blogger is a bigot but only when this situation came to light did he feel comfortable outing himself. Manny was quoted by one publication as being the Victim of “Black Propaganda” Manny took the focus off the boiling hot steroid issue and made it a racial issue. As if preachers in Baptist churches or reporters on BET are having Anti Manny rallies. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Correct me if I am wrong but that within its self is a racist Statement. The bigger point here is this situation cut across many lines and brought out the worst in people. I can say as a writer that my dream fight turned into a nightmare that grew more intense with each day
In wake of the fight being off I decided I would get the thoughts of some people in the sport on what this meant and if they felt the fight would one day come off in spite of the controversy. I interviewed Welterweight champion Andre Berto shortly before the earthquake in Hati. Like days before. The interview was in anticipation of and geared towards his welterweight unification with Sugar Shane Mosley. Towards the end of the interview I asked him his view on the situation, he told me the following
AB: “Its unfortunate, You have two guys and two camps with a lot of pride and they know what they want at the end of the day and they wont budge from their demands. I think its going to hurt the people in the boxing public in general with the fight not happening in March but I do think the fight will happen eventually”
A couple weeks later I was covering the Gamboa/Lopes doubleheader on HBO and I spent sometime with Max Kellerman. I was exiting press row and he had just wrapped up the live telecast. My interview with him focused on the fight we were both covering but he did give me a tidbit on the fight being called off
MK: “The only comment I will give you Christian on that situation right now is this, I think that fight has got to happen, because generally when the whole world wants to see a fight eventually it happens and I have to imagine that that’s the case here”
Max and Andre both seemed to tell me the same thing. They seem to think the fight will come off. I disagree. Floyd has already said he will require Manny to submit to drug testing in the event that they both get through these upcoming fights. I believe that Manny will NEVER agree to be put under the medical microscope. Another promoter who shares this point of view and asked me not to put him on the record for this work told me the following
“ The ugly truth of this is Christian is that Manny appears to be a steroid using athlete who simply did not want to risk exposure. That is why he gave up tens of millions of dollars, that is why Freddie Roach told you one thing and said something completely different less then 3 days later. Freddie and Bob were fine with testing but when they presented it to Manny he went nuts and refused because in Manny’s mind he cannot compete with Floyd unless he has an advantage and being caught cheating is not worth a billion dollars let alone 50 million. His move makes Public relations sense from a cheaters point of view.”
I have interviewed every relevant promoter in the industry. I know when a Promoter is selling garbage to me and I know when they are being genuine. This promoter was almost angry when speaking with me about this and he did not have a dog in the race. The last person that I interviewed in anticipation of this work was ESPN’S Dan Rafael. I ran into Dan at a weigh in recently. Dan was at the epicenter of the storm. Dan wrote about 60 pieces on the whole situation. I asked Dan his take on the biggest fight EVER falling apart over drug testing issues and how annoyed he was covering such an intense situation that did not bear any fruit
DR: "When you get that involved in terms of what your doing on a daily basis for your job and you follow it, and see first hand the stupidity and craziness you just scratch your head and wonder how these things could happen. I think one of the problems though, one of the reasons it did not get done, you have one of the principles involved in one spot, and then you have the other principle involved 9,000 miles away, its hard, you are on maybe a 12 mabye 13 hour time difference, communications, If they had been in the same area maybe it would have gotten done"
I then asked him if Manny had been in LA would the fight have gotten done
DR: "I believe that to be true".
I felt bad for Dan. He put his heart and soul into the story and nothing came of it. Amazing. I do not agree with him though. This fight will never get done. Manny wants the power to cheat. Floyd does not want to grant him that power. It’s that simple It is truly frustrating but after speaking to many people in the industry, having endless conversations at the fights I cover with true insiders, one thing is certain. Manny may have gotten around being honest this time; he has successfully spun this story in his favor. But, his legacy, his purity are forever tainted. There will always be a question mark surrounding him and his seemingly super human rise to super stardom. I was a big fan of Manny. I loved his style, heart, and charisma. After bearing witness to his shameful decision to for go testing, after I have seen the way he has hurt boxing, I will never again cheer for him and I hope that somewhere within his Drug taking regimen that he slips. That he is caught. I will be at the fight in Dallas and when I get a chance I will get Manny’s take on why his camp accepted the terms and he turned them down. I will ask Manny, a man who grew up in poverty, a man who will be broke by 45, why he would walk away from 50 million dollars because of a blood test. I will ask Manny why he claimed a fear of needles when he has perfectly descripted Tattoos on his body. I will play my interview for Freddie Roach and ask him why he did a 360 to the national media. I have many questions for Manny and his camp and you best believe fans I am gong to get them.
Christian is the Senior writer for Unifiedchamp.com